Building security going digital
Lock shop staffers handle more than just keys
By Colleen O'Connor, For NDWorks
When we think of campus security, we think of squad cars and foot patrols. But hidden in the depths of the Maintenance Building on the north edge of campus is a tiny office from which an important aspect of campus security is maintained.
Known as the "lock shop," this department of four does a whole lot more than making keys. The office is also responsible for locks, access systems, door closers and panic bars, among other things.
Andy Tripp, manager of locksmith services, has been at his job for 32 years, starting in 1978.
In addition to answering calls for repair and maintenance, Tripp and his staff are responsible for the maintenance of records of all keys and master key systems on campus—allowing him to replace your lost key without having to come to your office.
"People are surprised that this is a full-time job," says Tripp, although in 2009 the lock shop processed over 3,400 work orders.
After working solo for many years, Tripp now has three assistants: Marv Pruett, Rick Milliken and Dave Bierwagen, each assigned to a specific area of campus. He also works closely with the Office of the University Architect in reviewing hardware specifications for new and renovated buildings.
Now there's a big change on the way: Building security is going digital.
For years, maintenance and custodial workers have had to go to Mason Services Center at the beginning and end of their shifts to check out and return building keys from a central key room.
With the new system, key boxes are being installed in each building, with access gained electronically and restricted to authorized personnel. The new system will provide an audit trail, identifying the last person to take out a key.
So far, 108 of the new electronic key boxes have been purchased. The advantages of this system are many. "Building security is enhanced because keys don't go home with people," according to Tripp.
Building Services staffers will also be able to use the boxes as a time clock, eliminating the need to clock in and out at Mason Services Center. Installation of the new boxes began last fall, and should be completed by fall 2011.
Terry Udstuen, supervisor of special projects, notes that the new system "will be a more secure system, with better accountability, and it will be easier for people to access the keys they need for work. It will also save a lot of staff time."